Even if you are not familiar with this area, it is likely you have heard of Manassas National
Battlefield Park (or “The Manassas Battlefields”). Steeped in Civil War history, this park marks
the official start of the American Civil War. It is a destination attraction for both local residents
and visitors throughout the world. Here is a little about the history and the park itself.
The First Battle of Manassas
Manassas National Battlefield Park is an important part of American History. On these
battlefields, a bloody clash of armies took place. Beginning on July 21, 1861, the First Battle of
Manassas, sometimes known as the Battle of Bull Run, erupted on these battlefields.
Here’s the back story. Some 35,000 men in Gen. Irvin McDowell’s Union army began the
campaign to capture Richmond and end the war. Many of these men were 90-day volunteers
summoned by President Lincoln after Fort Sumter. These volunteers worked in shops and on
farms, and had little to know knowledge of combat.
The goal was for McDowell to seize the junction of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad at the
Manassas Gap Railroad. If he could seize this, it would give him the best overland approach to
the Confederate capital.
Five miles ahead of the Union soldiers were 22,000 troops led by Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard,
guarding every ford from Union Mills to the Stone Bridge. McDowell tried to move toward the
Confederate right flank, but his troops were checked, and he was forced to scout the left flank.
Meanwhile, Beauregard asked the Confederate government for help, and they sent 10,000 troops
led by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. Johnston’s men arrived at the Manassas Junction and marched
directly into battle.
This battle is where the famous quote that gave Stonewall Jackson his moniker came about.
Barnard Bee famously said during this battle, “There stands Jackson like a stone wall!” With all
the reinforcements brought in by the Confederacy, the Union soon realized retreat was their only
option. By July 22, the Union troops began their trek back to Washington.
Historical Sites from this Battle
– Statue of General Thomas J. Jackson – Located near Henry Hill and the visitor’s center,
you can see this statue of Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson sitting on his horse. This
statue commemorates the First Battle of Manassas.
– Stone House – This house served as a field hospital for both the First and Second Battles
of Manassas. It was mostly used for Confederate soldiers during both battles and was so
close to the fighting, it was occasionally hit by shells and shot. Two wounded soldiers
found their way to the second floor during the Second Battle of Manassas and carved
their names into the floor, where they can still be seen today.
– Henry House – During the First Battle of Manassas the owner of this home, Judith Carter
Henry, was approximately 85 years old and bedridden. She refused to leave her bedroom
as Confederate snipers used the house to shoot from. She was killed by a Union shell
meant for these snipers, making her the first civilian casualty of this battle. After the
battle, it’s rumored that the remains of the house were chipped away and taken by
sightseers as souvenirs. It was rebuilt in 1870 and eventually donated to the National Park
Service in 1940.
It is easy to see why military, civilians, students of all ages and groups flock to this battlefield for
not only a day of learning, but experiencing what life must have been like for those caught up in
the temporary breakdown of our country.
Next week we will delve into the history of the Second Battle of Manassas and explore hiking at
Manassas National Battlefield Park. Stay tuned.
Chris Colgan is the CEO and Team Leader of the Chris Colgan Real Estate Team. Chris was
born and raised in Gainesville, Virginia and has been in real estate for 10 years. He is a member
of the Re/Max Hall of Fame and is in the top 25 for sales in the state of Virginia out of all
Re/Max agents. He has been recognized as one of the United States’ and Canada’s Top 500
Marketing Experts by the National Association of Expert Advisors.